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Trademark Colors

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How to Trademark Colors in South Africa

Is it possible to trademark colors? Yes, the South African Trade Marks Act specifically provides for the registration of non-conventional trademarks, such as colors. A mark is defined as any sign capable of being represented graphically including, patterns, shapes, configurations, colors or containers for goods. Just like a Brand name or logo, trademark colors can provide an identity and unifying feature for an organisation. Color schemes can sometimes be even more useful when identifying a brand such as a sports team, because they are highly distinctive and instantly recognisable, even from a distance. The term “trademark” should not be confused with ownership of color. Trademarking a color simply gives an organisation exclusive rights to use a particular color in its own industry or in most cases for their very specific products. A non-conventional trademark is a type of trademark which does not belong to any pre-existing trademark category. Non-conventional trademarks are often difficult to register, but fulfils the essential trademark function of uniquely identifying the brand. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights sets down a standardised inclusive legal definition.

Non-conventional – Trademark Colors

Visible signs (colors, shapes, moving images, holograms, positions)
Non-visible signs (sounds, scents, tastes, textures).

Trademark Shapes
In order to trademark shapes your mark needs to consist of a three-dimensional shape. It is typically considered a non-traditional trade mark.  Other non-traditional trade marks include position marks and gesture marks. Examples of well-known shape marks are the Weber Kettle braai, the old Coca-Cola glass bottle, KitKat chocolate bars and Toblerone chocolates…

When you don’t Trademark colors

Simply by using a color scheme for a long enough time can give you rights to those colors. However, the burden of demonstrating trade mark rights in the color scheme during a dispute can potentially be reduced or even eliminated by obtaining a trade mark registration.

Posted on 16 February 2017
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International Trademark Protection

There is no such thing as an International Trademark. You should file a trademark in each of the countries in which you offer your products or services and you should also consider filing in countries where you intend to use the mark in the future, but some countries do have use requirements. Various international agreements make it possible to file a single logo registration in more than one country:

BOIP (Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands)
Community Trademark (European Union)
Madrid Agreement (97 Contracting Parties)
OAPI (17 French speaking member states in Africa)
ARIPO (19 English speaking member states in Africa)

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Trademark Registration, Trademark Search, Trademarks
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